Right to Request Flexible Working Extended to Most Employees
From today [30 June 2014], any employee that has been employed for at least six months can make an application for flexible working – a right that was previously limited to those with a child or caring responsibilities.
Employers receiving an application will have to give this reasonable consideration, and may only decline this for a valid business reason. Reasons for refusing a request must be due to:
- the burden of additional costs;
- an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff;
- an inability to recruit additional staff;
- a detrimental impact on quality;
- a detrimental impact on performance;
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
- insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work; or
- a planned structural changes to the business.
A failure to properly comply with an application provides an employee with the opportunity to bring an employment tribunal claim, which could result in an order to an employer to consider the application properly, and award eight weeks wages to the employee.
If an application is approved, the new terms become permanent – the employee cannot change their mind, and insist on returning to their previous working patterns.
Applications (including hearing & replying to any appeal) will need to be dealt with within 3 months of the written request being received. And applications can legally be made once a year.
If your business receives an application for flexible working (or is uncertain about whether a written communication should be treated as an application), get advice on this and how you should respond to the application – contact us for help & advice on your options; we can take you through your preferences, how you might be able to accommodate the request, or how any denial of the application should be made.